(Natural News) Tomatoes (Solanum lycopersicum) are an ubiquitous ingredient in many healthy dishes. Did you know that they come in different colors?
According to a study published in the Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science (JASHS), different-colored tomatoes offer certain health benefits.
Tomatoes are complete superfoods
Tomatoes help protect against free radicals and inflammation in the body. Botanically considered a fruit, tomatoes are often prepared and eaten as a vegetable.
A small, raw tomato (100 g) contains the following nutrients:
- 18 calories
- Water (95 percent)
- Sugar (2.6 g)
- Protein (0.9 g)
- Fat (0.2 g)
Raw tomatoes are made up of four percent carbs. A medium-sized tomato (123 g) contains less than five grams of carbs. At least 70 percent of the carb content of tomatoes include simple sugars like fructose and glucose.
Tomatoes are rich in fiber, and an average-sized tomato contains about 1.5 g. Around 87 percent of the fibers in tomatoes are made up of insoluble fibers like cellulose, hemicellulose, and lignin.
Tomatoes are also rich in these vitamins and minerals:
- Potassium – Potassium is an essential mineral, which has a role in managing blood pressure and preventing heart disease.
- Folate – Folate is a B vitamin (vitamin B9) that is essential for normal tissue growth and cell function. Folate is important for pregnant women.
- Vitamin C – Vitamin C is an essential nutrient and antioxidant. A medium-sized tomato contains at least 28 percent of the Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) of the vitamin.
- Phylloquinone – Phylloquinone is a form of vitamin K (vitamin K1) that is necessary for blood clotting and bone health.
Every color offers a different nutritional benefit
Data from the study revealed that tomatoes with different colors have high levels of certain antioxidants, each with their distinct benefits. The researchers analyzed these differences by breaking down the genome of different tomato shades.
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Here are the unique health-boosting properties of red, orange, and yellow tomatoes.
Red tomatoes are full of lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that helps fight heart disease and some forms of cancer. Additionally, this antioxidant can protect against sun damage.
Tomato skin contains the highest concentrations of lycopene. The redder the tomato, the more lycopene it has.
Tomato products like ketchup, tomato juice, paste, and sauces are the richest dietary sources of lycopene in the Western diet. In the U.S., these tomato products provide more than 80 percent of dietary lycopene.
However, it’s easier to increase your lycopene intake by consuming fresh, organic, and unprocessed tomatoes that have less sugar than ketchup. (Related: Greener AND more nutritious: Tomatoes grown with half the water have the same quality plus higher concentration of carotenoids.)
Orange tomatoes are rich in antioxidants called tocopherols, a form of vitamin E. This group of antioxidants also comes with unique benefits.
Tocopherols help address skin problems like eczema and psoriasis. Data also suggests that tocopherols help lower your risk of developing skin cancer.
Yellow tomatoes have the highest level of antioxidants called polyphenols.
Polyphenols offer benefits that boost your heart health:
- Cholesterol reduction
- Improved artery flexibility and function
- Less platelet clumping
- Reduced blood pressure
- Overall increased life span
Tomatoes also contain the following beneficial compounds:
- Beta carotene, an antioxidant that gives foods a yellow or orange hue. This plant compound is converted into vitamin A in the body.
- Chlorogenic acid, a powerful antioxidant. Chlorogenic acid helps lower blood pressure.
- Naringenin, which is found in tomato skin, is a flavonoid that minimizes inflammation and prevents different diseases, as seen in animal studies.
For a boost in your heart health, to lower your cancer risk, and to improve your overall well-being, make sure to add more different-colored tomatoes in your daily diet.